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Day 18: Laure Shang – “Graceland” (2013)
Genre: Electronic / Pop / Alternative
I adore Laure Shang and her unique way to deliver pop albums – and Graceland, while not her strongest work, is no exception. It’s a short but sweet EP and I’m excited to dive into it again.
Laure Shang walks the fine line between dream and nightmare in her music, opening the album on Twinkle, a short piano lullaby based on the famous Twinkle Twinkle Little Star melody, before delving into The Star.
The Star is build around a more drastic, dramatic piano melody countered by airy, soft vocals. It’s a song that carries you away as it approaches its climax, the arrangement slowly gaining complexity and layers and the vocals developing into a more projected, powerful delivery. There’s a spoken, English section that underlines the narrative aspect of her work as it very much feels like a twisted fairytale.
Adding something resembling a pop beat into the equation, Another Sunshine goes for a rougher production, but still uses Laure’s breathy vocals as an impressive counterpoint. The chorus particularly is plain hypnotic and sure to entrance you, even if just for a moment.
My favorite on the album is the deliciously dark Love Changes Love with it’s low, hushed verses and catchy chorus right out of Indie Rock. The melody and arrangement equally keep you guessing throughout, always going into the best possible direction, but never quite where you expect them to go. the shift up in the melody? Fantastic.
If you haven’t noticed a common theme in the album yet, fear not! Sparkling is another interlude based in the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star melody and guess what it leads into…
…an alternative version of The Star entitled Little Star. I’m not sure which I prefer. The second half of the EP is essentially English reworkings of the first half. Little Star seems a bit more out there, it’s more experimental but seems to lack some of the tight focus The Star had. They’re both most certainly worth listening to.
Life’s Alright initially sounds like right out of Lana del Rey’s demo pile. Which is a compliment, because her demos are fantastic. It retains some of Laure’s defining elements, particularly in the harmonies and the haunting vocalwork. It’s more straight-forward than most of her songs, lacking some of the tension, but gains accessibility for it, once again, both versions of the song are worth a listen.
One last English version, When Lovers Find Their Lovers, is an intense experience. Switching out despair for euphoria and ending the record on an optimistic note. It leaves a lasting memory and gets stuck in your head very, very easily. Almost the pop anthem version of Laure Shang.
Graceland is a concept EP that may disappoint some fans for having “only” 3 new songs, considering half the album is English reworkings of the same tracks, but it’s a fantastic experience nonetheless. Laure manages to give all of the songs a distinctive personality, even the alternate versions, while still having it flow as one. It’s an EP that invites to dream and to put it on replay.